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Regional reporter who set up freelance agency dies aged 69

JannetteLee002A former regional reporter and magazine freelancer with a “huge heart” has died aged 69.

Tributes have been paid to Jannette McKenzie Lee, pictured left, whose career took her across the country at several local newspapers before writing articles for women’s magazines.

The daughter of a First World War veteran originally from Beckenham, Kent, her first job in journalism came 52 years ago at the Beckenham Journal.

She later went on to work at the West Somerset Free Press, South Yorkshire Times, Rotherham Advertiser and Doncaster Free Press.

But she made a name for herself writing for the top women’s magazines, including Best, Bella, Take A Break and Chat, through her agency, J Lee Features.

She had first cut her teeth with true life tales while working with David ‘Tommo’ Thomas at South West News.

Later, Jannette would travel he North to find her stories, and in setting up her own freelance business became well respected among magazine commissioning editors.

She met husband Peter, a retired journalist, while working at the Times in the late 1970s. The pair married in 1982.

Said Peter: “She had a huge heart and cared about the people whose lives she shared. And this, together with a keen eye and dogged determination and a nose for the news brought in some wonderful true life stories.

“Her friendly personality and caring nature were complemented by determination and single-mindedness, and a rare skill to put people at ease, and reflect their feelings in print.”

“Retirement was a wrench for her, because she loved her profession so much, but she managed to ease out of work and enjoy reading; books, authors and literature were among her great passions from childhood, and together with medieval history were her great hobbies.

“Being a journalist, real-life crime was another interest, as was foreign travel, mainly to places of historic interest like Damascus, Cairo, Vienna and Warsaw. And though not religious, she revelled in the architecture and history of the great cathedrals.”

Janette passed away on Saturday and is also survived by her brother Andrew.


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  • February 13, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Jannette was one of the finest journalists I have ever worked with. It was with huge pleasure that I employed her while Editor of the Doncaster Free Press. She will be sorely missed, but NEVER forgotten.

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  • February 16, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Sorry to hear of Janette’s passing.
    Had the pleasure of working with her in Doncaster.

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  • February 17, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I met Jannette only once at a reunion 30 years ago but wish I had known her better. I did know her husband, Peter, who was a rival with the opposition, the South Yorkshire Times, and I extend my deepest condolences to him.

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